The 4 People in Schools Who Students Are Most Likely to Call a Mentor

By Arianna Prothero, Reprinted from EducationWeek

Ask educators and they’ll tell you that their students’ motivation to work hard and try their best in school is suffering.

Eighty percent of teachers, principals, and district leaders surveyed in early 2023 by the EdWeek Research Center said that the pandemic had made their students less motivated.

Mentoring relationships are one way to boost students’ motivation and engagement in school by increasing students’ sense of belonging in school, their belief in themselves as learners, as well as their attendance. Research has also found that mentors can also lift attendance rates, test scores, and grades.

But who in schools are teens most likely to connect with as a mentor? The answer: teachers top the list, followed by school counselors, athletic coaches, and principals or assistant principals.

Fifty-four percent of 13- to 19-year-olds said they considered a teacher in their school building to be a mentor for them and 41 percent said a school counselor, according to a nationally representative survey by the EdWeek Research Center. (Students who took the survey could select multiple categories of people who serve as their mentors.) Interestingly, another 21 percent said a mentor was a teacher from a previous school year or semester.

But as the following chart shows, just about any adult in a school building can serve as a mentor. For example, 7 percent of students said the school security guard was a mentor, and 6 percent said the same of the school nurse.

Female students were more likely than male students to list teachers and counselors as their mentors, while male students were more likely to say that they considered an athletic coach to be a mentor.

Overall, 81 percent of students said they consider at least one adult in their school building to be a mentor. A mentor was defined in the survey as someone who provides one-on-one help with schoolwork, advice on future college or career plans, guidance on social or other personal issues, and/or a sense that students can confide in them if need be.

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